Christmas Decor 2019: My Top Picks

 

If you’re decorating your tree this weekend, then you might be on the hunt for a few new additions. Instead of doing gift guides this year, which can be overwhelming, I’m sharing my top decor picks. Whether you want to add something special to your tree, or simply love seeing all the glittery items, I hope you enjoy my favourites from this year’s selection. 

Basic Baubels & Tinsel

These Glitter stars and Blue and Gold Baubels both offer good value for money and makes for a good base of colourand texture. I also like the Turquoise and Gold version of the aforementioned baubles (pictured) but sadly not available online.

Trying to find a golden tinsel that doesn’t look yellow can be challenging, so I was very pleased to find the best copery-rose gold tinsel at only R20 from Mr Price.

Fancy Tree Decor

Of course a tree built from only plain baubles would be boring. The golden Rhino and Maple Mouse make the cutest couple and you can currently snag them for 25% off on Woolies online.

I bought the Gold mirror star to tie to the top of my tree as an altenative tree topper, but @Home also has a very understated yet glittery star (not available online) to consider.

This year also saw me add some glass baubles to my tree, to be handled with care off course. The Golden Glass Bauble from @Home was added my gem-toned tree and the more classic Honeycomb bauble and Silver Pinecone from Biggie Best is the latest additions to my golden tree. I am very tempted to go back for the Christmas Sphere and double up on some of the others. I love how traditional and magical these are.

Wreaths

I have a weakness for Christmas wreaths, particularly ones that can be used year-round. The lush green one from @Home currently adorns our front door and this one from Game is a steal. Woolworths also has glittery options if you fancy something more festive than simply tying a bow.

Table Decorations

Lastly, if you want to scatter some decorations around the house you can’t go wrong with this simple glittery tree in a tin and a sequined deer. This glittery tree that lights up will also be a magical addition to evening events.

 

I hope you have a magical time decorating for the festive season! Let me know what you’re adding this year or what your favourite additions are that you reach for year after year?

PS Takealot stocks some of Paperchase’s Christmas decor and wrapping accessories. They are ghastly expensive though, so I didn’t include anything. But they’re all here if you want to take a browse.

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We bought a house! | Renovation & Design Plan

I’ve been absent from the blog for the majority of the year, but I’ve been itching to get back at it. Initially I had a lack of inspiration. Then in May we bought a house, which we hope will be our forever home, but it has ended up taking A LOT of our time. Now I have more than enough ideas to share, but feel like there isn’t enough hours in a day.

I want to preface this by saying that I know that we are incredibly fortunate to be in a position where we could purchase a property. I feel incredibly lucky and appreciate that this isn’t something within everyone’s means. In saying that it also wasn’t easy, we saved for several years and the bank still owns the majority of the house. We’ve also sold our old property privately. But if all goes according to plan, in twenty to thirty long years it will be ours and will be almost unrecognisable.

You see, the reason we finally found something within our price range, in our dream neighbourhood that ticked most of our boxes was because it was still in all its original 80’s splendor. Think archways everywhere, facebrick interior walls and way too many clashing wood tones. Thankfully we contracted a great independent builder. He helped us in cleaning up the floorplan a little (the previous owners had extended without taking down exernal doors between the new and old floorplan) and plastered all the interior facebrick.

After months of painting, plumbing, polyfilling, sanding (and more sanding!) and tiling, our house is finally liveable. We’ve broken the renovation down into phases, so it isn’t too overwhelming for us or our budget. The majority of the work was completed during the first phase, but we still want to add a security fence at the front of the property, renovate the main on-suite bath, do the rest of the windows and convert the braai room into a living room with a fireplace. If that doesn’t sound like enough, there are also a million other smaller jobs to keep us busy as well.

Long story short, we had to move out of old place and into the new home that isn’t even close to finished. When we finally came around to ordering the fun stuff like flooring, we found almost everything we like was out of stock or had incredibly long lead times. The wall-to-wall carpet is being installed in the bedrooms today, which should see a massive improvement in the dust levels, and the laminate flooring will hopefully arrive by the end of the month. Plumbing, tiling and electricals are done in the kitchen but we’re waiting on the cabinet fabricator for the majority of the kitchen. Meanwhile there is still so much painting to do as the majority of the house’s ceiling are knotty pine that we’re painting white. It feels like we’ve placed our furniture in the middle of a build site. So by the time we actually have flooring throughout it will feel like we’re living in luxury!

I have so much fun content in mind with this house, so please let me know what you’d like to see? I have a design plan nailed for a few rooms, we’re using all our old furniture and will only add to it where necessary. Most rooms will be styled similar to before, but we have a few more rooms in this house that have to be styled from scratch. For now we’re just focused on the basics, like organising blinds/drapes, hanging our exisiting art and eliminating all the dust. Oh and decorating for Christmas!

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The Home Edit: Mirrors

I’ve been hunting for beautiful mirrors for our home for the last few weeks. I’ve subsequently developed a minor obsession with beautiful mirrors. Since I’ve found way more amazing mirrors than I could possibly every need, I thought I’d share them with you. I’ve tagged the ones that I own, but I love all of these. You’ll notice I’m obsessed with antique-style mirrors. Anything in brass, with an interesting shape or with a shelf has drawing my attention. Unfortunately many of them aren’t very budget friendly. Don’t let that put you off though as Facebook Marketplace and Gumtree are also great resources.

  1. Ezra Mirror – If you are considering a round mirror, but concerned about whether you only like it because it is trendy then this a great alternative. The mirror has an interesting shape and again the size (90cm) is large enough to make an impact.
  2. Iron Shelf Mirror – I’ve bought this for our black and white bathroom and can’t wait to hang it. The shelf will be great for storing my daily beauty necessities and will help keep the counter clear. I just love this punchy black mirror. If you’re at all interested in purchasing this beaut, keep in mind that Superbalist often has 30% off deals on this one.
  3. Primrose Mirror – If you’ve been on the internet lately you might recognise this as a more antiqued version of this Anthropologie mirror. The size is good, the price is a little steep, but this is a statement mirror that could easily function as a piece of art. It is meant to be an over-the-mantle mirror that should just lean on your mantle. I’ve lent mine against the wall on my dressing table. It is not meant to be hung on the wall, although securing it safely is recommended.
  4. Large Mirror – Ironically this is one of the smallest mirrors featured, but it is also very affordable and perfect for small powder rooms (where ours currently hangs). Again this is a great alternative to a round mirror, but in a more classic shape than the Ezra.
  5. Parson Mirror – Last but not least, the Parson mirror sports two of my favourite features: a brass finish and a shelf. It is on the narrower side so be mindful of where it is placed as it might be disproportionate to most furniture pieces.

This rounds out my top mirror pics. Please share if you have any of these mirrors, I’d love to see how you style it!

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The 4 Pots & Pans Every Kitchen Needs

The only pots and pans you need Cast iron skillet

I recently purchased myself a cast iron skillet and it has legitimately revolutionised my way of cooking. I took the plunge after seeing a heat mark emerging on my beloved non-stick pan. It made me realise what I have always known, non-stick or Teflon coated pans simply can’t handle high heat. Surprisingly a cast iron skillet also wasn’t as big an investment as I had anticipated. So with my recent purchase in mind, I thought I’d share my five essential pots and pans that everyone needs in their kitchen drawer. If you have any to add, please drop a comment below! I’m sure that this list could grow.

Non-stick Bauer Pro pan

Non-stick pan

I’ve long believed that cheap and cheerful is absolutely the way to go with non-stick pans as they simply ruin so easily. For years I’ve used these pans from Clicks and when taken good care of (i.e. avoiding using sharp tools), it lasts around 2 years each.

I definitely would have continued using them, if our family hadn’t made all our 90’s kid dreams come true when they gifted us Bauer Pro pans for our wedding. I haven’t tried blowing off burned milk, nor would I any time soon (bonus point if you catch the Verimark reference). These pans feature a thicker bottom, which is great for heat distribution and prevents sauces from burning. They have lasted fairly well, as we’ll be married four years this October. The glass lid that we received with it hasn’t seen as much use, but is definitely worth purchasing even if you’re only using it every so often as it can easily be used on other pans of a similar size later on.

When I do eventually replace them I’m keen to try a ceramic pan like these from Greenpan. They are supposedly amazing, although I can’t vouch for them myself. Obviously this one with the gold handle is the dream.

Use for: Pancakes, eggs, sauces. Things that require low-heat and are prone to sticking.

I own this one: Bauer Pro 26 cm pan with glass lid

Non-coated cast-iron skillet

Cast-iron pan/ skillet

There are so many options and different price points to consider when purchasing a cast-iron pan, so I did my research. I already owned a coated cast iron casserole that I’ve chipped despite working with it very carefully. So I knew from the get-go that a coated option simply wasn’t going to work for me. Plus the coated versions can’t handle very high heat, although I think here we’re talking naked flame heat in this case. A cast-iron skillet does of course also make the perfect camping partner.

The only down-side to a non-coated version seemed to be that it doesn’t love water or acidity. But even if you ruin the coating with either, it can easily be cleaned and re-seasoned. Depending on how much trouble you’re willing to go to, the seasoning can also be a little time-consuming. Although it only needs to be done at the beginning and as necessary later on.

What I really appreciated about these pans is that it seems to be a purchase for life. Even if you do damage it with a little rust, it is generally nothing that a little scrubbing and seasoning can’t fix. Plus they are easy to find for around R300-R400. Don’t be put off by the rough surface, they do become smoother as you season them and cook with it.

Use for: Searing and cooking meat, stir-frying veg and cook top to oven dishes.

I own this one: Outdoor Warehouse Fireside Cast-iron Skillet

Coated Cast Iron Casserole

Coated Cast-iron Casserole

The iconic Le Creuset casserole, a French kitchen staple, should have a home in every stew loving kitchen. Think something like Jamie’s beef stew or Julia Child’s boeuf bourguignon. It definitely gets more use in the winter months, but I also use it as my second pot when entertaining.

I chose to go with a coated cast-iron for this as the dishes I’d typically cook are very acidic, often featuring chopped tomatoes and wine. As mentioned before, acidity can ruin the seasoning of a non-coated cast iron which could then lead to rust. Do be warned though, they chip easily and could start to rust if you’re not careful with any exposed cast iron.

Oh and let me let you into a secret, you don’t need to spend upwards of R3k on a real Le Creuset! Any ceramic coated cast iron casserole will do the job, although I’ve only had mine for about 4 years it does show its age.

Use for: Casseroles, stews, soups and as a pot.

I own this one: 26 cm Inferno Cast Iron Casserole from @Home

Le Creuset Stainless Steel Pot

Thick Bottom Stainless Steel Pot

Often sold in sets of 20 – 24 pieces, a stainless steel pot is a truly versatile piece of kitchen equipment. Few households requires more than one or two of these and it is a case of quality versus quantity.

A good quality pot doesn’t have to cost a fortune, but there are a few things to consider before taking the plunge.

Avoid a non-stick coating as it could be damaged by the heat required in some cooking methods and it serves no purpose in making soups and cooking rice. Similarly you want the handles to also be made from stainless steel as opposed to plastic, this way you know that the entire pot consists only of virtually indestructible stainless steel.

The last requirement is one of the hardest to come by, but a thicker bottom is absolutely essential when it comes to heat consistency for delicate things like making a roux or preparing choux pasta.

We cashed in our wedding vouchers on a 3-ply Le Creuset stainless steel boiler, which was one of the few thick bottom pots available at the time. AMC also make great ones, but their handles are plastic and I’d also check out newer ranges at @Home like Smeg and Baccarat although I’m not sure that they feature thicker bottoms.

Use for: Boiling pasta, rice, soups, sauces, makeshift double-boiler

I own this one: 24cm Le Creuset 3Ply Steel Casserole

You could stop at the four above, but it is likely that you’ll feel the need for at least one other pot or pan to suit your cooking style or favourite food.

A griddle cast-iron steak pan, a non-stick wok, a second stainless steel pot or a smaller non-stick pan for eggs and omelettes could be considered an essential depending on how often you cook what and the size of your family. It is all about tailoring your selection to your needs.

Let me know if you found this post helpful or whether you’d add anything to the list? I’m always keen to find new kitchen accessories and cookware to make the everyday task of cooking simpler and more enjoyable.

P.S. You can see how well-loved my pieces are in the pictures above. They’re pretty well seasoned, with at least twelve years between them.

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How To Pretty Up Your Kitchen on a Budget

If you’re anything like me, you probably spend at least an hour each day, if not more, in the kitchen. But so often a kitchen falls to the way side, especially if it isn’t the kitchen of your dream. So I thought I’d share how I made my less than ideal kitchen look prettier on a budget. These tips are great and should help you, whether you’re renting or simply looking to make an existing kitchen work.

  1. Keep the clutter at bay

This is my number one tip on making kitchens look better! Stash away as much as possible and keep those counter tops clear. You really only want to have things out that either doesn’t fit elsewhere (hello microwave) and basics like salt and pepper, that you reach for often, out on the counter. Limit your small appliances to the ones you use daily and put the rest away, but still within easy reach. If your kitchen is small, this is the single best tip to make it feel bigger and to free up more counter prep space.

2. Paint the backdoor

This is one of my personal pet peeves, but in South Africa so many homes have raw wood back doors that have simply been varnished. It does come down to personal preference, but if you find yourself unhappy with the overall look I’d recommend you try painting the orange-red tone door either white or a dark colour. It is amazing how much sleeker a room feels if you limit the wood tones in it. Sanding the door down to a beautiful raw wood tone (at least on the inside), could also be a beautiful way to add warmth to a plain white kitchen.

 

3. Limit the colours on display

This brings me to the colours you introduce into your kitchen. It is so easy to fall for all the pretty pastels, but if you’re dealing with a less than ideal kitchen restraining your colour palette is the best way to tone it down. I’m not saying all the miss-matched tupperware must go, but perhaps consider re-bottling some of your sink side essentials into clear glass bottles or removing the labels of products on display. Less visual clutter is always better!

4. Choose pretty basics

There are some things in your kitchen that you simply can’t hide. I advise you invest a little more in them, especially if it is something that you’ll be able to use for years to come. Think a beautiful gold dish drying tray, colour coordinated dishtowels and beautiful utilitarian items. Sometimes these might cost more or require more digging to find, but the joy they bring are so worth it. I’ve rounded up a few of my favourites  (and a few ‘when-I-win-the-lotto’ items), down below. I still think one of the saddest things about adult life is spending that much money on a rubbish bin, but at least I found some pretty ones!

5. Decorate the space

Something people often forget to do is to actually decorate the space as you would any other room in the house. Introducing your personality and style doesn’t have to mean you can only think about fridge magnets! Lay down a washable rug or beautiful bath mat to cover unsightly floors and introduce art work into the space. I like the look of beautiful trivets stacked against chopping boards and creating the transitional style I personally love through both classic and modern accessories. For you, this could mean something mid-century or glamorous depending on your personal style. I also don’t think you can overestimate the power of fresh flowers or a beautiful potted plant. Herbs are a popular choice for good reason.

1. Salt and Pepper Grinders | 2. Kettle | 3. Serviette holder | 4. Slotted spoon

5. Bin | 6. Broom | 7. Utensil holder | 8. Dishrack 

I hope you find these tips helpful in dealing with a basic kitchen and that this will help you enjoy the space that much more!

 

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Home Update: Living & Dining Room

Black and white bookcaseI feel like I’ve lost my blogging motivation a little and there probably isn’t a single reason, but I was struggling to figure out where I fit in. I’m doing it part-time, really only as a hobby, and I can’t compete with most blogs as they’ve become so editorial. I still enjoy those blogs, but that level of professionalism simply isn’t possible for me. I don’t make use of a professional photographer, don’t buy things only for the blog and producing a single post often has to spread out over three days.

But as I was sitting on my couch now, I realised I wanted to share our living room (great room?). It is our all-in-one living and dining room that doesn’t come to more than 30 square meters. It isn’t ‘done’ in the traditional sense of the word and I’m not being modest like most bloggers (we’re missing half our gallery wall) but our new flooring just pleases me so greatly that I can finally share the room with some pride. To say it has been a work in progress is probably an understatement. We moved in four years ago with only two small bookshelves and a borrowed couch. We’ve come a long way since then, so I’d love to share how we made this small living-cum-dining room work for us and our cats.

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Gift Guide: For Him

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I think men are the hardest to shop for. At least the men in my life are! They aren’t metro men, so skin care or simple treats don’t really spark joy. If there is something they need or desperately want, they buy it. That only leaves items that are way out of anyone’s budget and a few obscure buys. If you have a similar experience when it comes to buying for men, or you’ve left Christmas shopping until the last minute for any other reason, this guide might help you.

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Christmas Gift Guide: For Her

It is that time of the year again! If you haven’t purchased gifts for all the ladies in your life yet, then perhaps some of these ideas might serve as inspiration.

Home

I’m starting with my favourite category, home goods! H&M Home and Poetry are usually my first stops. A beautiful plant (cactus or orchid) with a pot is one of my favourite gifts to give. This one from H&M fits the bill perfectly. I also recently bought two very pretty plant pots for under R200 each at Weylandts (not available online), so definitely worth a look. You also can’t go wrong with a marble cheese board. This one from Poetry is sold out online, but the wooden one is similarly priced and just as pretty. Occasional cutlery also makes a beautiful gift and I just purchased this cake fork set for myself. These golden tea spoons are just as pretty from H&M.

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Festive Van Der Hum Cocktail

This time of year – summer, the festive season and school holidays – is the ideal time to have friends and family over. Although our gatherings are usually fairly casual, I  love how a simple cocktail can make even a pizza party feel special. As Christmas is around the corner, you’ll likely find yourself playing host some time over the coming month. This cocktail is a staple in our house as it is so easy to scale according to party size, whether you’re solo wrapping all the gifts or hosting the extended family.

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